Relook day activity centres' hours

My son has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attends a special needs school and a special student care centre after school.

When he reaches 18, we foresee him going to a day activity centre for the whole day.

Under the latest Enabling Masterplan, a national blueprint for disability services, new day activity centres built will provide much-needed care and support for adults with ASD and their caregivers. However, I urge the authorities and relevant voluntary welfare organisations to look into the centres' operating hours and transport arrangements.

Currently, the three day activity centres for adults with ASD operate either from 10am to 4pm or 9am to 3pm. In addition, two of them are closed for two consecutive weeks a year. Such operating hours are not helpful to caregivers who work full time.

Caregivers may have no choice but to leave the autistic person with the domestic helper at home. The autistic person may not be meaningfully engaged and the lone domestic helper may feel overwhelmed.

Transport arrangements also pose a challenge. It is common for buses to leave the day activity centres early. This effectively shortens the operating hours.

Caregivers of adults with ASD need much support to juggle full-time work and providing the best care for them.

Ong Choong Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline 'Relook day activity centres' hours'. Print Edition | Subscribe